Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Violence

Friday … May 1st – May Day, Riots, Demonstrations and Mayhem

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy: Spoons

Today is May 1st. Today is also my father’s birthday. Not that it matters, since we don’t speak, but it is what it is. We all know what has been going on in the United States these past two weeks. I don’t write about current events, because who needs another opinion on what I feel is wrong, and what we need to do to fix it.

Systemic problems in law enforcement are a common problem not only here in Canada, but in other places like the U.S. I believe that there is a tipping point in all of this. And another dead black man at the hands of police just reinforces that, ONE, the police, for whatever reason, are not paying attention to what other cops have done to other black men, and TWO, not learned the lessons, and so, THREE, on high horses, cops pegged a black man for unsubstantiated reasons, arrested him, shackled him and put him in a police van, then drove him to his death.

Everybody should be wary of police, because nobody is immune to police brutality. It could happen to any of us at any time. For years really, black communities have been target populations, their young people are unjustly targeted.

And it seems cops don’t give a shit about civil rights and proper policing procedures.

Two camps of people, both on edge, both warily watching each other, almost to the point of playing chicken, and as it happened again, one side acted, and the tipping point was reached, and what did we see, riots, looting, fires and civil disobedience.

The cops aren’t on a very good learning curve are they? They just seem to be shooting themselves in the heads week after week, and month after month.

Living above the Northern Border, watching life happen in the South, one has to detach because, one) It isn’t happening here, two) We cannot do anything about it, and three) it has nothing to do with Canada.

Pretty harsh, if it ain’t local, don’t worry about it.

Civil right are civil rights, no matter where you live. They just happen to be on live display down in the U.S.

We have our own problems to deal with here.

It was May Day today. And Canadians are demonstrating all over the country. Our Quebec government has introduced drastic austerity measures, and nobody has escaped these new laws they are trying to push forwards.

So like every Spring, as has happened over several years past, Montrealer’s really know how to protest. They go ALL OUT, or Go Home. From small demos to huge demos, people have been marching in the streets for a long time.

Today was no different.

The downtown core was disrupted, buildings were shuttered, bus routes were stopped, people were marching in the streets. Now the authorities have certain rules for engagement.

  1. All routes must be given in advance
  2. No masks
  3. No violence
  4. Be peaceful and behave and you can march
  5. That RARELY happens.

Our police force is a bit twitchy.

Most demonstrations that go off, are quickly quashed because of rules being broken. Our young people aren’t really afraid of the police. They go fuck all on the police. They scream, yell, throw rocks and bottles. They burn police cars and wreck public cars and buildings.

I was on the train going out this evening, and the trains were FULL of people, with masks, picket signs, and they were chanting on the trains ahead of the chanting they were going to do once they hit the streets.

I got to the church and friends of mine who had come from other directions, spoke about riots, tear gas and marauding hoards of people running through the streets and the police chasing them down.

So you see, even up here, we aren’t immune to social strife and demonstrations.

Spring offensives are a regular occurrence here. As soon as it warms up, those with a bone to pick, start planning. This has been a common theme over the last eight to ten months. For the last year, there have been silent protests by city employees, firefighters, the police. There are protest stickers covering police cars, firetrucks, metro cars, buses, you name it.

If you can stick a sticker on it, there you go.

Now add the layer of public disobedience, on top of pissed off authority figures, you have a disaster in the making. Two sides pissed off for their own reasons, clashing over other issues that have pissed city folks off, and the fire keg is set to blow.

And things are just getting started. It is going to be a long spring.

I have opinions, but I’d rather keep them to myself, so to avoid flame wars.

Tonight we talked about Character.

We sat a full house. Everything was good.

More to come. I just wanted to address the obvious and share a bit about Montreal.

Nobody is immune.


We Are Here

918I was born in 1967 in a small town called New Britain Connecticut. Family was all one had, in whatever form they came in. And I was lucky that I HAD all the family I could use because we all lived fairly close, a short walk or a short car ride from point A to point B.

Back in the day gender roles were set in stone. The binary system was held in place and I never heard or saw any “other” gender role or met anyone who lived “outside” the norm.

But history tells us that Gay existed well before I was born, and it was a silent life of hiding in the shadows and living your lifestyle behind closed doors, or in places that you could be yourself, but in my reading of history, those stories are few and far between.

I didn’t know that “other” existed until I was in grade school and happened upon reading material my father had collected and was reading around us, as if to say, leaving mags around the bathroom was commonplace and not “wrong.”

I had a little transistor radio with one of those little ear pieces that I listened to at night. And I was so interested in a certain radio show that played during those years. You wouldn’t find them on any dial today, or maybe you would, on some internet channel. Times have changed.

There was a particular radio show hosted by a woman who invited guests on to her show in the hopes that she would hook those guests up with callers. One guest piqued my interest when he identified himself as a Master, and was looking for a sub. I didn’t know what that was, or maybe I did, after reading my father’s mags…

This was not a heterosexual match up show, it was a Gay match up show. This guy was a regular on the show.

What was this, and why did I find it so appealing ???

I could read by that point in my life. And I read well.

Along with Readers Digest, Playboy and Penthouse magazines another little booklet was meat and potatoes. I wasn’t interested in titty girls and naked women. Variations was written for the person who straddled the sexual fence.

After my rebellion at day care, I had a key to the house and that’s where we went after school. I was a nosy little shit and I had to know everything about family. And I was like that for many years after that. My father (in hindsight) was living a double life. I know that today.

The words he spoke, were very different than the actions he was displaying behind the scenes. His internalized homophobia was rampant. I think he read magazines and lived vicariously through them, while he abused me terribly, hoping to beat the “gay” out of me later on.

My father would not have a GAY in his house, but he was one himself, he wasn’t just bisexual, it was full on gay.

My mother was not exempt from this. She actually participated.

They say gay is a choice. Let me ask you this, can a child make a choice of that kind of proportion and know for sure that is what they are or want to be? Or as happened, I came across informative reading that 100% informed what side of the sexual orientation coin I would later land.

It wasn’t a choice. I knew. I knew right then and there. But I didn’t know what it meant.

Fast forward into our last move into the house we lived in the longest.

I did not know anyone who was gay, or better yet, I had never met anyone who was transgendered. My parents kept us out of the social discussion. I listened to them talk about the Queers and the Gays and those sick people with AIDS, who should just die already.

My parents met other families, some with means, and others not so much. All of these kids, us and those we came to know, grew up together. Family dinners, holiday banquets, birthday parties, and summer barbeque’s were the stuff of legends.

My introduction to Gay had begun.

One of my friends, who is still my friend to this day, I call her mom my step mom, because where my mother failed, she had stepped in and filled that role. She would have wedge wood china dinner parties, and invited people from across the spectrum.

That is where I met the gay men who would facilitate my walk across that proverbial bridge, when it came. I straddled the orientation line because my father would beat me after every dinner party we attended to make sure he would beat the Gay out of me. He abhorred Gay, but he loved reading about them, and having sex that was well outside the normal vanilla sexual slant.

My parents were not so vanilla they loved their chocolate side.

I dated girls throughout high school. I kissed girls, but I had never had sex with a woman, never have, and never will. I could never be who I wanted to be, as I was educated in what that meant by people who were.

When I learned to drive, and get around, I discovered Gay “in community.” Back in those days, pride flags were something I learned about, because they told me what I needed to know, as I drove through particular neighborhoods.

The “Gay community” moved from one section of the city to another, trying to find a footing for itself. And they went from sparse to the entirety of Coconut Grove proper. There were gay stores, gay shoppes, gay bars, and gay festivals.

Later when Gay grew, us gays moved from the mainland to the beach. Miami Beach, the mecca for retirees and snowbirds, now shared space and lives with the gays. It took a long time for that community to grow and then flourish. And it did.

I could not stay in Miami to be gay. My father would not have a gay child in his family.

I moved away to be gay. My alcoholism came along for the ride.

Over a decade saw me hit new highs and lows, and over time I not only became the gay in my family, I became that gay with AIDS in the family. Two strikes and I was out.

It was the gay community who stepped in when I really needed it. When my parents tossed me to the curb, it was the gays, who took me in and I am still alive because of just how good they took care of me. Over a hundred of my friends died, but I survived.

Because I did what I was told.

I listened to real people, gay people, show me how to survive. And if you think gays are not compassionate or loving, you are dead wrong. You say we are sick and perverted, well, some are, and I love them for it. What is life without a little “spice.”

Where Heterosexuals failed to take care of their children, where very sick homosexual adults were tossed into the streets, kicked out of their homes, tossed out by lovers, the good gays stepped in and did what they had to do for the least of these.

I fell away and walked out the door on four years of sobriety and it was the worst mistake I have ever made. When I returned from my disastrous gay odyssey to hell, I moved to the Beach.

Rental assistance afforded me an apartment two blocks off the beach, in a gay friendly building with gay friendly people who had my best interest in mind. But I was still drinking.

I prayed for an alcoholic to bring me back, and he appeared.

I was thirty four. I wasn’t a beach boy. I didn’t have the looks nor the money.

So on my first sober day, I returned to a gay meeting. Nobody noticed me.

What I did find was a group of straight men and women who did welcome me and provided everything I would need to live soberly.

I moved to Montreal. By this time, by my family’s standards and resentment list, I had four solid strikes against me.

If you want to be gay and live a life of your dreams, move out of the United States.

Every day I read articles and watch videos of just how sick heterosexual people are. I read articles about heterosexual people doing the worst indignities to the least of these.

Every day we are bombarded with all kinds of actions that are abhorrent to me abhorrent to all of us.

I am ashamed to call myself an American. There is only one reason I retain my citizenship.

But for all intents and purposes, I am a Canadian.

Gay is all over. From city to city, from province to province and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Here we have marriage equality. We can walk down the street holding hands and not fear some asshole making a scene. Cities have dedicated Gay Villages.

Here is where my gay education took another step in its evolution. At a particular meeting I was introduced to a trans woman, who we all love and respect. I actually heard her speak a few weeks ago.

Who knew from trans boys and girls, men and women?

In the last ten years or so, gender rules and assignments have expanded. It the most wonderful time in our lives. No longer in the shadows, kids, young people and adults are making their stands to proclaim who they are.

But in the United States, sadly, beatings, killings and suicides are the norm.

Around the world we know that LGBT people are being killed, ostracized and imprisoned for who they are. Sadly the world is not moving ahead with acceptance and love.

I’ve known a handful of young kids battling with who they were born as, coming to see who they really are. Some have been in transition for a while now. There are pockets of locations where kids are being allowed to explore who they are, with support and love, but that is far from the norm.

Kids killing themselves because of internet trolls and hatred by family and friends is terribly disturbing. We have to step up and be their voice in a world that wants to only shut them up.

Over the last few years I have become friends with a family that is remarkable. One son is gay, One daughter is in transition at age six, and the third son is in the mix.

I’ve witnessed what it takes to parent a transgendered child. Parenting any child is hard work, it is a lifetime calling for parents. And we know, by what we are hearing and seeing, children are being born into families that really, should never have had children to begin with.

That is another stark reminder of just how sick some parents really are.

We’ve witnessed celebrities born into celebrity lives. Growing up one gender, and today a handful of them are who they really want to be. The transgendered community is growing in leaps and bounds after a handful of celebrity transitions.

Last night was a watershed moment for Bruce Jenner. It was a watershed for all those boys and girls still in the mix, making lifetime decisions about who they would like to be and who they really are.

We Must speak for them. We must stand up for them. We must accept them.

WE MUST LOVE THEM.

We must love each other, even if we do not understand why they are doing what they are doing.

Phil said this last night, “I may not understand but as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, respect!!!”

Kanye said it best …”I am nothing, if I can’t be who I am!” Being true to ones self is the key to a life flourishing.

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Kids are killing themselves because of bullying and indignity.

We must stop this trend any way we are able.

It takes a village to raise a child, and an even bigger one to raise a trans kid.

Who do you know today? Do you know a gay person, Do you know someone with AIDS, I am sure all of you know someone who has faced or is facing a terrible fight for life because of illness.

How many of us know families with trans children in them?

You shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your spirit, AND you should love your neighbor as yourself.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.


Thursday … Loosing an Anchor

target-header

Not So Much tonight …

At this hour, the weather is holding. They tell us that snow will fall overnight, then temps will drop into the (-20c’s ) tomorrow night. Brrrrrrrrrr.

Over the last year and a half, I have told you the ongoing story of the redevelopment of Alexis Nihon Plaza, the mall just up the street. The entire West end, this section of downtown, has been under construction for a long time. We have new sidewalks, new bus stops, a new park is going in, a brand new condo tower is in the prep stages, they are tearing down an old building to make way for a new build, and the mall is still a work in progress.

I would imagine that probably over a million dollars or two went into the mall redevelopment program. We were getting a brand new anchor store … That was Target. They spruced up the floors ( read: they re-tiled the entire mall in flashy white tile) they refurbished all the columns and carpeted them and put all brand new signage in the mall, they painted and moved stores from their original locations to where they are now,  and redesigned the foot print of the entire mall, all in prep for Target. They put in a glass elevator so people could get to all floors because there was no access for people who needed that ability in the past. That cost some bucks.

I forgot to mention the million dollar LED signage that went up outside the building itself, top of the line signage that flashes and dances according to the weather outside. That must have cost One Pretty Penny to put up. The mall needed all the flash and bang it could afford to welcome this new anchor store to the mall and do it properly.

They tore apart the mezzanine level where the pharmacy, IGA and other brand new stores are located. They took out a staircase that fronted Zeller’s when they closed. And in its place, they erected a huge monstrosity glass ceiling that extends from the ground floor to the mezzanine in quite the fashion. The ceiling looks down into Target and the Starbucks that is in the store itself, like they needed the extra draw of a Starbucks coffee shop to get people in the door to shop. It sits in that very important IMPULSE location you see in every grocery store on the express cash aisle.

The entire building lends itself to Christmas decorations that are hung from the very pinnacle of the building itself over Target, and one HUGE Christmas tree was put up in front of the store. It was quite the spectacle.

And the IGA was rebooted, rebuilt and more than doubled their footprint.

We were all excited to have a Target in our neighborhood. It came in with a bang. Canadians had high hopes that the U.S. retail chain would give us all those frills and cheap prices that they gave us, when we traveled to the U.S. to shop in the very same store.

Cross border shopping is still the “thing to do, because prices here are still too high.”

You can’t really run a store that has empty shelves. And you can’t run a chain of stores when your pricing is higher than normal, and not offer customers something for their time and purchase dollars. Yes, I shopped at Target, and I still shop there today. I have not been 100% thrilled with the goods, but it is what it is.

Today Target announced that it is closing all 133 Target stores in Canada. ALL OF THEM !!!

All that work they did to get ready for this Anchor Store to come in and change our lives was a waste of time, treasure and talent. In the end, they could not offer us, what they offer the U.S. by way of stock, pricing and customer satisfaction.

The entire ground floor was designed for the purpose of bringing people to the store, having them shop, then hang out in the mall. A new Starbuck’s, Tim Horton’s, Dagwoods, Frozen Yogurt, Joogo Juice, and a good amount of seating for people to congregate there in front of this anchor store, was built.

Yes, they built it, and the people came, they just weren’t shopping enough at Target.

There will be a very big empty space when Target closes. It looked pretty, was all shiny and it attracted lack luster numbers,

Target in Canada is a failed venture.

I was at the mall earlier today. There were liquidation signs all over the store. But I got a good deal on jeans, that I sorely needed. They had what I wanted. And I had never needed a fitting room before so I did not know where it was. I picked up a couple pair of jeans and walked through the store looking for a fitting room, it was stuck in an area that I never walked through before.

So, yeah, I bought some jeans. Size 34 waist – 30 length.

A few months ago, my doc changed up all my medications because I was getting fat. What I did not know at the time, (I was on those drugs for more than two years) that they caused considerable weight gain, so I was promised 10 to 20 % weight loss with these new drugs, Janumet and Invokana.

Today I put on jeans that were slimmer than the ones I had on. I’ve lost 2 inches on my waist and a good ten pounds off the top to boot !!! Woo Hoo !!!

We’ve been customers of Pharmaprix for years. Today when I went to pick up my medications, my check out girl told me that due to a million dollar budget cut, staff and services were going to be cut, and that our medications are going up in price. We already pay a pretty penny for pills on the Quebec insurance program. She had a petition for us to sign, everybody was signing it, so I signed.

It seems there is a theme going on city wide. Better yet, Canada wide …

The pension program cuts the province wants to make is causing strife amongst city workers, people are pissed off, store chains are closing, budget cuts are coming across the board, the STM raised its transit rates this month, which makes it more expensive to buy passes and tickets. Provincial companies are cutting staff and raising prices at the same time.

The Provincial Government introduced austerity measures that have not gone down well with the population, and the employees in the province, and the city, We are also on austerity measures and that is also problematic for citywide workers, trying to make a living, AND get a pension, that they rightly deserve for the work they do, however shitty they are paid, and are asked to go above and beyond their duties, and they get pissed off, they go to work, pissed off, then get into scrums with passengers on trains and buses, it really isn’t a pretty picture at all.

The Canadian government, under the Conservative Party is not doing ANYONE any favors.

It is a very long and complicated story. Provinces get help, transfer payments based on natural resources and their production value from the government, that is paltry. it’s just a really bad scene.

We need a new government that will work for the people instead of fucking them all over.

Out in the oil patch, the price of oil is still falling, and Canada is scrambling, trying to figure out what to do right now, thousands of workers are loosing their jobs, budgets are in free fall, the economy is dancing around the word “recession.” It just isn’t a very pretty economic picture here at home, or across the country tonight.

And far far away, people are dying at the hands of religious extremists.

We learned the other night that our very own Canadian Home Grown Isis fighter Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi is dead ! He popped up on social media some time ago, in a slick new recruiting video, touting his Canadian upbringing and called other Canadians to join the fight against the west.This bright, educated, Canadian Young man was seduced by isis to go to Syria and fight in the war against the West. With his bright face of young years, wearing a flak bomb jacket, he went over to the dark side, and now he is a martyr for the cause of Islam. What a fucking shame…

What are becoming of our young people world wide. So much hatred. We have pissed off all the right people, after years and years of unjust war, torture allegations out of the U.S. and they way the world sees Islam, and paints everybody with ONE WIDE BRUSH STROKE.

We’ve made more enemies than friends since prior to 9 -11…

Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi … He is dead … He was once one of us, and even if he turned over, somewhere deep down, I don’t think he forgot where he came from, since he spoke so warmly about it in his propaganda video, but what can you say about religious disillusionment ?

The problem with religious extremism is that it has nothing to do with Islam, however hard they want you to believe that all this terror and killing, all in the name of Allah, is called for in a Holy Book.

No, it is an aberration…

Europe is smack dab in the middle of a multicultural fight between East and West. Borders are porous, getting to and from the Middle East/Iraq/Syria/Yemen so forth and so on, back into Europe is easier than getting from North America, back and forth.

I also failed to mention the atrocities that are West Africa. Crimes against humanity, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Christians and others. The kidnapping of school children to marry off to terrorists, the conscription of KIDS to kill human beings. That is a terrible atrocity.

We’ve seen in the Middle East that kids there have been conscripted for killing human beings as well. Such unimaginable horrors. And we are powerless to stop it. How do you deal with so many flahs points of terror and killing … ?

It looks like things are going from Bad to Worse over there. Shit is also going down in the U.S. unlike we have seen in a long time. Here in Canada, and Montreal, for that matter, we are safe. People are wary, when they are out and about, because like we have seen, Canada is not immune to what is going on a world away.

It is very sad that 2015 has started with such a terrible BANG…

But what can you do? We must stand our ground and fight for what is right and good.

I was in a local news shop today, and the discussion about Charlie Hebdo was going on when I walked in. It seems they will be carrying the newly printed edition, and sales start tomorrow across Canada. It is going to be a mad house for sure.

Pope Francis has said there is a limit to freedom of speech, when that speech crosses religious lines. Many folks are at odds with that statement. For myself, I don’t see the good in inciting anger across religious lines. I guess that comes from my religious education and my belief that you don’t make fast friends when you cross that invisible line of discretion, freedom and speech.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …